Skip to main content

Internet Attorney: Cloud Computing – Do You Trust Google With Your Government Info?

By September 17, 2009July 5th, 2010Internet Lawyer

cloud-computingIf you think the government can’t keep your information private, just wait until next year when Google starts getting contracts with federal government agencies for its cloud computing services. It is enough to make an Internet attorney cringe because of the loss of privacy.

Beyond the civil servant losing a laptop with your Social Security number, tax return, or health records on it, you’ll get the added joy of knowing your privacy can be invaded by a hacker or simply because someone didn’t secure the data properly.

If Google gets certified by the government under the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA), will you sleep better? This is the same government that miscalculates deficits by the trillions and couldn’t handle a cash-for-clunkers program without botching it. Do you think the government is smart enough to put sufficient security restrictions in the contracts or enforce the restrictions that it does impose? What about ownership? Who owns the data?Could even an Internet attorney tell you?

Will it remain exclusively owned by the government or will your private data also be owned by Google to do with it as it pleases. If you think Google can build a pretty good profile of you with your current gmail, Google apps, and browsing activities, just wait until it has the government’s treasure trove of data to mine.

Let’s assume for purposes of argument that Google’s cloud computing is 100% secure, its motives are pure, and your data will remain private (for now). What happens if the government wants to switch service providers at some time in the future (for example, a lower bid at contract renewal time)? Will the government be able to migrate the data to a different platform or is it in essence held hostage by a proprietary system operated by Google?

If you look at the way Google has treated intellectual property rights (Google Book Search) and privacy (Google Maps street view), you’ll understand that the company has a history of ignoring legal rights when it serves its purpose to do so. Google doesn’t have to be evil to make a buck at your expense. It just has to see the profits outweigh the potential legal penalties.

Am I picking on Google? No. It just happens to be the 800 lb. gorilla that’s about to play with your privacy like a toy it can discard on a whim. The same critique applies to its potential competitors for government cloud computing contracts. Take it from an Internet attorney…having the government and Google share your private information isn’t really a good thing.

Mike Young, Esq.

Author Mike Young, Esq.

Mike Young has been practicing business and technology law since 1994 and is an angel investor in startups. He's been an entrepreneur since 1988. To get legal help from Attorney Young, click here now or call 214-546-4247 to schedule a phone consultation.

More posts by Mike Young, Esq.